Religious seclusion–wrong

There are people who go in seclusion due to religious reasons. We have examples of Buddhist monks, the Nirvana belief in both Hinduism and Buddhism which refers to meditating alone and be secluded. There are such examples in Islam too.

There has been an immense trend of Sufism or Rabaniyat in the subcontinent in which people prefer going into seclusion for ‘misperceived’ Islamic reasons. It is a phenomenon which is made by people that cutting off from society and keep praying in seclusion is something which makes man nearer to God and let them not indulge in sins.
Uzlah (seclusion) is a Sufi term that means to avoid being with other people and to live on one’s own in hermitage. It is used in the same meaning with words “Wahdah (oneness)Khalwah(privacyand Inziwa (reclusion) though there are some slight differences among them. The words “Ikhtilah (social intercourse)” and “Khiltah (to live with a society) are the opposites of Uzlah (Süleyman Uludağ, Kuşeyri Risalesi, 240)
The reason they give for living in seclusion is to refrain from sins and things which can lead to sins. However, Sufis say “What a man in seclusion should mean by living in seclusion is not living away from people in order to be safe from their evil, but preventing them from his own evil”.
There are more examples of such people who are named differently as Gaddi nasheen, Peer, Malang etc. The Gaddinasheens and the Peers are not as much secluded as the Malangs. The Malangs are mostly found at the tombs of religious people who have had a good role in the society religiously. The Malangs don’t interact with the society and spend more of their time inside the tombs and keep on performing/offering their so-called prayers.
It is that these all kinds of secluded people have actually misperceived Islam and have gone astray. The seclusion they are in is not allowed in Islam. Imam ‘Ali (a.s), who, while interpreting the verse:
“Say: Shall We inform you of the greatest losers in (their) deeds? (These are) they whose labour is lost in this world’s life and they think that they are well versed in skill of the work of hands.”
Surah Kahf (18), Verse 103, 104
said “One of the manifest examples of this are the monks, who had imprisoned themselves in the mountains and wilderness, and were under the impression that they were performing an excellent work.”
Tafsir-e-Namuna, vol. 23, pg. 384
In a tradition we read that ‘Ali ibne Ja’far asks his brother Imam Musa ibne Kazim (a.s.): “Does it befit a Muslim to go on a journey or adopt asceticism, enclose himself in his house and not come out of it?” The Imam (a.s) replied: “No.”
Bihar-ul-Anwar, vol. 70, pg. 119, no. 10
The great philosopher, poet and writer, Allama Iqbal, whose poetry and philosophy is a reflection of the correct perception of Islam and is still praised, also was against seclusion and withdrawal from society.
نکل کر خانقاہوں سے ادا کر رسمِ شبّیری
کہ رسمِ خانقاہی ہے فقط اندوه و دلگیری
(Leave the monasteries and offer the ritual of Shabbeer i.e. Imam Husain a.s,
The tradition/ritual of monastery is only sorrow and heart-rending grief)
These are two verses from his poetry. In this Iqbal says to the Muslims to stop being secluded in their homes or elsewhere and perform the ritual of Hazrat Imam Husain(a.s) i.e. what Imam Husain(a.s) did; he didn’t remain secluded when the evil forces were in power, he rather went out and reached the city of Karbala near river Furaat where he was martyred. The point is that seclusion is not a way to get nearer to God; Imam Husain’s (a.s) sacrifice is more valuable, he did not get secluded. In the second verse Iqbal says that the tradition of seclusion and monastery causes nothing more than sorrow and grief, so it has no positive gain rather has negative impact.
Some of these kinds of people try to justify their this act by quoting the example of Prophet(saww) that He(saww) used to go to the cave of Hira and remain secluded there and pray. They have again misperceived it and look onto only one side of the Prophet’s (saww) life.  Prophet (saww) did not cut off from the society at all and did not use to remain in the cave all the time. He used to go there just for offering prayers before the advent of Islam and was very much social. If he did not use to be social then how come the people of Makkah know about his righteousness and honesty as he was famous with the names of Sadiq and Ameen?!Moreover, Islam strongly recommends its followers to offer the farz prayers in the Masjids rather than in homes. Hajj is also an example of getting united and social. So the point is that physical seclusion is not favoured in Islam. Wise is the one who is physically social yet spiritually secluded.Image


2 responses to “Religious seclusion–wrong

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